Tag Archives: mindfulness

Take control of your mind

Your brain has approximately 100 billion neurons, and every each of them can create synapses witch 10 thousand, thereby creating a complex network. Neurons pick up, send out, and process electrical impulses, such as your thoughts. According to latest research led by Jordan Poppenk of Quinn’s University in Canada, an average person has 6200 thoughts per day. * What does it mean for your life what these thoughts are? Everything.

The human brain is an incredible and powerful, yet ambiguous tool. The great thing about it is that we can learn to use it to achieve what we want. How to do it? By learning to control the mind. At this point, I want to indicate that brain and mind are not the same things. In short, we can say that the mind is part of what the brain does; it is related to perception, thinking, self-awareness, as well as other unknown processes. 

Picture by Tabitha Turner

We can distinguish two modes in which our brain works: automatic and direct. In a direct mode, we are aware of what we think or do, while the automatic mode is responsible for all habitual activities. This isn’t just about automatic actions like using the right or left hand, brushing teeth or driving a car; here we are dealing with thinking patterns, and this is why it is so important to set up a “thoughts filter”

You are what are you thinking

Recognizing and working on changing negative thoughts patterns is the first step you need to take if you want to develop, heal or simply improve the quality of your life. 

Life isn’t comfortable if your thoughts are filled with fear, doubt, sadness, hate, or jealousy. It’s not easy to make your dreams come true when there’s a little saboteur in your head who whispers you can’t make it, you don’t deserve it, you’re worse, you’re too stupid, too ugly, too fat, too thin, too old, too poor…Most of us had to deal with these unpleasant promptings at one time. But how to deal with it in the long run? 

How to develop the skill of cultivating a positive mind? 

Have you ever decide that you want to adopt a dog – let’s say a German Shepherd – and then you see this species everywhere? It’s not a coincidence – this is how reticular activating system works. RAS is a group of nerves at our brainstem that filters out unnecessary information, so the important ones gets through. It ‘sieves’ the world through the parameters you give it. In the same way, it seeks information that validates your beliefs. RAS connect subconscious part of our brain with the conscious part. To put it simply – you are getting what you focus on. 

I wrote more about how our consciousness and subconsciousness are part of something bigger here: https://wholeworldinmyhead.com/2020/06/04/can-understanding-quantum-physics-help-you-create-your-dream-life/

Set your intent and visualize

“When the phenomenon of the universe is seen as linked together by cause and effect and energy transfer, the resulting picture is of a complexly branching and interconnecting chain of events(…)” 2 If you are channelling your conscious energy towards a specific goal, RAS focuses on that goal. 

It is incredible that in this scientifically backed up theory, we can find reflections of many ancient beliefs. Buddha himself said: “All that we are is a result of what we have thought.”

There are many techniques of visualizations that you can adopt for yourself. I would recommend that in whatever way you set up your “mental movie”, try to to do it regularly and always involve emotions in the process. Try to feel what you would feel if you really were in the situation you imagine. While you are creating this image, experience it as if you were living it yourself at the moment. 

Create that vision in your mind that will give you real feelings and ignite your desire.

Why don’t you try it yourself? Take control of the powerful tool that your mind is; filter your thoughts, be aware of them, and set time every day to visualize. You will be surprised how much your life can change. 

You can read more about the issue of positive thinking in achieving goals here https://wholeworldinmyhead.com/2020/04/05/how-positive-thinking-leads-to-success/

1 ‘Discovery of ‘thought worms’ opens window to the mind’. Queen’s Gazette, July 2020

2 ‘Steps to an Ecology of Mind by Gregory Bateson’ (Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. 1972).

Don’t put your life on hold

My granny had a whole wardrobe filled with dresses for special occasions. I’ve never seen her wearing any of them. They hung useless, collecting dust and going out of style. Like dreams that we put off for later.

Daily routine is 90% of our life; special occasions are only a fraction.

There is nothing more disastrous than seeing life as a series of special events separated by time that does not matter. After all, this time that fills the gaps between important occasions is all we have. So why do we neglect it?

Postponing life for later manifests itself on many levels;
perfumes that we consider too expensive to use everyday. Clothes that we don’t want to wear daily because we don’t want to wear them out (as if they were more important than our joy of wearing them). The favourite restaurant we only go to on one occasion, or this bottle of super-pricey wine that has been dusting on the shelf for months because it’s a pity to open it. Or those dreamed holidays that we put off for “a better time”. But there will be no better time – if you don’t make an effort to make present moment great, the future will be a sloppy too. The only thing that will change is that you get older and maybe you won’t want anything anymore.

Celebrating life is about appreciating every moment – whether it will be special depends only on us, on our attitude.

This approach makes life a constant waiting for something better. But life happens here and now. Whatever happen today won’t happen in the future. We will never be in the same circumstances again, and we will never have the energy and state of mind we have now. Unused opportunities will never come back to us.

Notice how often you are waiting for something to happen or for something to change. You can grow old in this waiting. Instead of waiting for special moments, make every day special as often as possible.

Let today be a special occasion

You can create special occasions without waiting for anything from the outside. It can be something as bland as the tradition of pancake Saturday mornings, or a monthly celebration of your relationship or friendship. Put on your favourite blouse, drink coffee from this antique china that you keep locked behind the glass case, order this delicious cake today even if it’s not your birthday. Enjoy your life, man!

You are the creator of your reality, and it is only up to you what rank you give to the events that happen in it.

Do you also fall into the productivity trap?

Not so long ago, I had a slight breakdown. It seemed to me that I no longer had room in my head for more thoughts. At the same time, space and time seemed to narrow – everything got less – everything except responsibilities, plans and things to do. My anxiety returned, I could no longer breathe, and slowly began spiralling into depression.

Be careful with recently so popular word – productivity -there is a monster inside. 

There was a time when my diary was filled up with goals or things to do, to this level, that I didn’t have a minute to do anything outside of my schedule. Moreover, If I didn’t check out all things from a to-do list I felt unworthy. 

Even if it gives you an illusion of fulfilment, a full calendar is not a definition of success. It becomes dangerous when we base our importance on what we have managed to do or achieve. Overlapping with too many responsibilities can lead to burnout. So can we talk about “tascoholism”? Yes, when we are only focused on the future and our life starts to be a nothing else but a project. 

Planning is good and it’s good to have goals, but real life isn’t a list of goals to tick off. This approach cuts us off from being here and now. After all, the most important thing is to be present in your own life. 

How not to fall into this productivity trap?

Let it go

Whatever it is – everything can wait. Close your diary and close your eyes. Find a peaceful place at this moment, inside yourself. Feel yourself here, in this space and time. Feel what it’s like to just be. 

Now, do something for yourself. Something which will change your vibrations and take you from stress to pleasure. And most importantly – absolutely don’t feel guilty about it. There is time in life for work, for achievement, and for rest, which is equally important. Time for pure joy of being, most precious manifestation of life.

How I rescue myself from situations when I feel like drowning in reality? I choose some long novel, or a horror story (this is my weakness) and dedicate a few evenings only for myself, scented candles, herbal teas and immersion in reading. I don’t take phone calls and I don’t use social media. It’s only me and my small peaceful world. Sometimes I let my cat get inside 😉

Go inside

Starting day from a great routine that includes meditation helps cope with any kind of stress. Making mindful mid-day stops is also a good idea. Try to find a few minutes between your daily tasks just to ventilate your mind, turn off for a while. Be aware of yourself and your emotions all the time. Pause during the day and notice what’s going on inside you. If you feel you need a break, that there’s too much of something, just do it. The world will not collapse. 

And go outside

Nowadays we have lost our connection with nature, with the energy that flows through everything. We have forgotten that everything is one, that we are made of the same elements and come from the same source. Reconnecting to this source allows you to see everything as it is. Realize that you are a piece in the puzzle of the universe. 

Notice the world around you – trees, plants, clouds, starry sky, moon, powerful sun, life-giving soil. You can draw energy from it. Sit on the ground, lean on a tree that has been here for hundreds of years and will continue to grow long after you are gone. Find this particular stillness which is the anchor for this moment. Isn’t it a great feeling – being a tiny part of something bigger. To me, night walk under the stars is the most purifying and building inner stability ritual. Unfortunately, clear, cloudless skies over Dublin are not often found.

Verify your priorities

Is everything on your to-do list so important that it can’t wait? Do you have to do all of these – start a business, enrol in another field of study, learn Portuguese, take a speed reading course, learn to play the violin, build an athlete’s body, write a book? Choose what matters to you and focus on it. Don’t get distracted – there will be time for everything.

I’ve noticed that lately when someone asks “how are you” it’s is in a good tone to respond “busy”. Is being a busy person the new definition of being a successful person? It sounds like bullshit. Wouldn’t it be better to be able to answer “I am calm, peaceful and in the right place”?

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Master your focus

This is the thing that everyone want us to do, but nobody ever showed us how to do it. Nobody even explained what it is – this wonderful, almost unattainable physical state. Focus. Think about this – since early stages of our life, through school, college and work, we hear all the time that we need to focus. But how the hell, can we do it? It would be great if someone would kindly show us, right?

In simple word focus is ability to eliminate distractions. Like with many other things – it’s simple, but not easy. The question is – why we struggle so much achieving clear concentration? Is it a matter of some kind of flaw? Or maybe our brains refuse to obey? Let’s find out.

It turns out that most people can’t manage themselves in the right way. We are not aware of how our brain, mind and our attention work. One of my personal You Tube guru, Dandapani, says:

“(…) most people can’t concentrate today for two reasons; one is we’re never taught how to concentrate, and second is we don’t practice concentration. So how can you do something if you never taught how to do it? And how can you be good at something if you don’t practicing? (…) let’s say on average we are practicing a 13 hours of distractions a day, seven day a week, and then you’re wonder why you’re so good at it. That’s the law of practice (…) we become good whatever is we practice.”

Simple as it is – we become all these things to which we devote our attention. When we divide our attention to many things at once, we’re losing. Divided attention is not attention. It’s distraction. And as Dandapani saying, it’s not enough if you sit once a day for 10 minutes meditation practice, while for the rest 1440 minutes your mind is distracted! Do you see where we are going with this?

Unwavering focus is is something you need to practice.
Not for ten minutes a day, but all day. Wonder how? Let’s gets things under way.

  1. Myth of multitasking

First thing you need to remember: multitasking is bad! I mean really bad, ugly and shabby. From now on I want you to think about multitasking like you would think about your older’s brother stinky pair of socks, or pineapple on pizza, or polish disco charts. Or preferably all of them at once. I know what you want to say right now, I really hear your voice  ‘Why?Multitasking is great, it save your time!’ Keep that voice down please, cause this is not the case. Why? Here it is: multitasking forces your brain to switch your focus back and forth very quickly from one task to another. And what is wrong with that? Our brain cannot seamlessly transit from one task to another. Those switches costs you mental price. This is more harmful than you might think and have real negative impact on your productivity and creativity. What it means is that multitasking stops you from getting into a state of flow, which is the best condition for creating any work. Also, it impacts your short-term memory, even leads to increased anxiety. So do one one thing at the moment. Only one.

2. Turn notifications off

Get rid of that stimulating buzzz sound while you working on something important. Seriously, do you need to know who liked your instagram selfie, or what your bestie uploaded in her latest story? No,you don’t! All you need is do you task – that’s all matter. There will be time for all emails, texts, facebook, missed calls. But later, when you finish. Such bullshit really weakens concentration and motivation. You know yourself how much willpower requires you to concentrate, so don’t waste it because of  some stupid notification bells.

3. Try pomodoro technique

This method, developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s., uses a timer to break down work into not long (originally 25 minutes, but you can decide for yourself), timed intervals spaced out by short breaks. Pomodoro is one of the simplest and most effective productivity tools – requires only a timer and simple rules. For this 25 minutes you must really work, without bullshit. After a while you will see that it works. And there’s more – with time it can even help improve your attention span and concentration. Definitely worth a try. You can also try focus music (you can just find it on you tube) while you working on something – it will keep you into what you doing.

4. Be mindful

Learn how to be totally aware of yourself. Try to pay unwavering attention to whatever you do at the moment. Practice it.  Not for ten munutes daily, but all the times. When you speak to someone, pay all attention to that person. While eating contemplate the taste of food, notice its smell and consistency. Be attentive even with trivial activities, such as washing dishes or vacuuming – treat them as a practice of your mindfulness. Practice concentrating on every little thing you do during the day. You’ll find out how good you will be after some time.

(...) If you practice something over and over again, you become really good at it. And that's why people are so good at distraction - because it's what they practice." - Dandapani

5. Meditate

You expected that, right? What can I say, meditation is a thing! It’s the best what you can do for yourself. It can help you grow on so many levels. More or less you know what this is about. Of course this topic deserves more attention and space, and I’ll back to it in future posts. For now, I want to highlight how significant may be bringing this practice to your life. And don’t say that you can’t or you don’t know how – meditation is a process you can learn. Like any other skill.

Once I had tat silly idea about meditation. I don’t know where it came from, but I was expecting something extraordinary from meditating. And by extraordinary I mean flashes, visions, enlightenment, or I don’t know what else, maybe a journey to another dimension. I expected some extreme changes of consciousness. Like after strong joint, or something. Well, forget about it. Meditation can change your consciousness, but not in this junkie-hippie-stoner way some might think of.

Meditation clear your mind and allows you to see things on a deeper lever. It allows to look inside you and to see the connections between all things in reality. And it’s better than being ‘on high’!

There are many apps out there that might help you enter the process and learn it. I can recommend Calm or Headspace, both you can try out for free.

Instead of ending:

This is the second version of this post, the first containing about 1000 words, I ‘accidentally’ deleted. It shows how inattentive you can be when writing about focus…Ironic. I got annoyed, you can imagine, but them I remembered that once ‘accidentally’ I deleted my bachelor’s thesis written in 90 percent. Two weeks before deadline…I realized this time it’s not so bad – I just need to focus more! So I took a shower, grabbed a beer and back to my desk . And here it is. Maybe not so polished, but I wrote what I wanted to write.

Stay calm. Stay focus. Stay mindful.

Small big things

What are all the self-development blogs, books, vlogs, talks, methods used for, and why their popularity is still increasing? Why we are so crazy about the constant improvement of ourselves and everything around us? What is this holy grail of self-development? Well, in short, we want to be happy. Yeah, whatever that means. But really, what does it mean?   

If you happened to experienced a sudden feeling of fullness, maybe while sitting in a cosy armchair reading a favourite magazine and sipping steaming tea, or while having super tasty lunch with your bestie, or maybe when you’ve forgotten about the whole world while playing with your pet, you might get the point of what real happiness is.

Happiness is not created of super epic stuff like conquering the world. It’s rather like seeing the wonder in every little thing. True happiness resides in the realm of small things.

I’m sure you’ve heard about blue zones determined so by Dan Buettner. In his research, he identified the longevity „hotspots” of the world. The zones are Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia, Nicoya in Costa Rica, Icaria in Greece and the Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California. People living in these places share not only longevity but also a great sense of happiness. You must be wondering what a great secret lies behind it. Well, the trick is to live simple. People from those places share common lifestyle characteristics. Simplifying we can bring them to a sense of community, balanced diet and awareness of spirituality. Buettner breaks it down to nine following points:  

Moderate, regular physical activity

 Having a life purpose 

Controlling the level of stress 

Moderate caloric intake

Plant-based diet 

Moderate alcohol intake

Engagement in spirituality or religion

Engagement in family life and social life 

I can almost hear you thinking Is this for real? How the hell this can have such a significant impact on an overall sense of happiness? Well, the answer to this is that happiness is a very simple thing. Simple, but not easy. Like lots of things in our life which are simple, but not easy. Let me break this down for you: if you wanna lose weight you know what to do – you need the right diet and a dose of regular exercise. We can agree that this is simple. But…is it easy? We all know the answer.

Small things lead to great happiness

It seems to me that everything starts in gratitude. Happiness begins when we realize that there are so many things that we should thank the Universe.  How do I know? Because this is how I started my path to a better life. And you know what? Gratitude works, bitches.

Think, that there is somebody out there who is happy with less than you have. And think about all things you are grateful for, all the good things that happened to you, all amazing people you’ve met on your way, all chances that were given to you. And also think about all those opportunities and beautiful moments which are yet to come. Do not focus on all the material things you have, they are relevant, but not the most important. Of course, you should be grateful for them too, but turn your attention to what really matters. I’ve been getting rid of excess stuff for some time and I have to say that I feel good about it. I feel lighter. Still have many books, however those I know I won’t read again I donate to libraries. And perfumes, for which I have no excuse. But I won’t buy more. Promise.

My point is I do not own a lot of stuff. But I own lots of love for my boyfriend, my family, my pets and those few friends that I have. I own lots of joy with having a walk in the forest or with a glass of bordeaux in the evening. I own lots of passion for my favourite books, music, movies, art, poems. I own lots of satisfaction with my writing and drawing. I own lots of beautiful memories of great moments and great people. I own lots of hope and faith, and I own an incredible amount of dreams and goals that I know will be fulfilled. It’s so little and so much at the same time. 

I think having a goal is the basic driving force of everything.

To be happy you need to have a reason to get out of bed every day. This is another thing that people from the blue zone have in common – they never stop working, in a sense that they have bigger and smaller things to do. Everyday. Think about all those people, not only retirees, who lead aimless living filled at most with the waiting for the next episode of the TV series. Do you think they are happy? Well, how can you be happy being dead inside? Your goal, your mission is something personal, only you decide what it is. There’s no importance hierarchy here. For one it can be changing the world, for others creating something small but satisfying. 

We are all here for various reasons and they all are important.